Virtual Planetary Exploration V2.0

Future astronauts will conduct various activities in space and on or near celestial bodies to help us learn about their mission destinations, Earth, and our universe. Your challenge is to create interactive 3D models of equipment (e.g., planetary geology tools) that future space explorers might use for activities like exploring a planetary surface.
A half-century ago, NASA conducted the Apollo missions, which put the first men on the Moon. Artemis (the name of Apollo's twin sister in Greek myth) is NASA's planned lunar mission to put the first woman and the next man on the Moon. As future astronauts conduct a variety of upcoming robotic and human activities on the surface and in orbit around the Moon, we will better understand the universe and our home planet. Then, we will use what we learn on and around the Moon to take the next giant leap – sending astronauts to Mars.

Your challenge is to create interactive 3D models of equipment that future space explorers might use for activities such as exploring a lunar or planetary surface and deploy these models on a web page.

Think about what kinds of experiments future explorers will want to perform, and what sort of tools could help with those experiments. For example, you could (but are not required to) design planetary geology tools for exploring bodies such as moons, planets, and asteroids. One historical reference, the Apollo 16 Press Kit (see Example Resources), has pictures of the tools that the Apollo 16 astronauts carried in their geology field kit.

Objectives of this challenge may be educational or creative or both. In pursuit of the educational objective, your team may choose to create interactive models of historical items, such as the handheld tools used during the Apollo missions or science instruments and systems used in Lunar missions conducted by the other space agencies participating in the International Space Apps Challenge. In pursuit of the creative objective, your team may choose to invent new tools or surface exploration systems. Inventions may derive and improve upon historical systems. If your team develops a new and improved version of a historical system, make sure to describe that heritage in your project's product description.

Participating teams should research planetary exploration tools, create interactive 3D models of the equipment, embed those models in a web page, and deploy the web page on a free hosting service. Products from this challenge ought to be relatively low polygon count models in the Graphics Language Transmission Format (GLTF). The model(s) should be embedded in a deployed web page.
As you develop your project, you may (but are not required to) consider the following:

  • Beginners may create individual tools or devices such as a pick or a hammer. Intermediate teams may produce a kit containing multiple tools or devices; the kit itself may be a backpack or an interactive container. Advanced teams could create interactive models of analysis equipment that present real or simulated time-series data.
  • The model could be a historic or futuristic design of equipment such as hand tools, analysis equipment, or integrated kits comprised of several items.
  • Consider making the model interactive, including features such as a hinged lid, button(s), knob(s), switch(es), slider(s), etc. Alternatively, teams may identify multiple time-series data sets that could be presented as a static or dynamic 3D visualization in WebGL with widgets that enable starting, stopping, and zooming to manipulate the model.
  • Notional ideas for potential models that could be manipulated via HTML5 widgets or 3D widgets within the WebGL model include:
  • One or more robot hands with two or more fingers with actions to open, close, move (x,y,z), and rotate (pitch, yaw, roll)
  • A teleoperated robotic glove box or greenhouse that includes commands to pick up, move, place, push, pull, etc.
  • A subsystem, e.g., a battery, capacitor, bearings, or turbofan, with a plot of prognostic data from the Prognostics Data Repository
  • Virtual equipment that presents time-series Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) Earth science data sets
  • Interactive 3D models of Lunar Geology Hand Tools as described and depicted in pages 79-85 of the Apollo 16 Press Kit
  • Building upon free open-source models is okay, provided that you comply with all proper requirements, including, as applicable, providing your team's project page and repository ReadMe file a credit to the original creators and an explanation of how your team added value to the model. An example of building upon an existing model could be to add a scientific instrument or tool to a robotic system. An interactive 3D model could include a user interface widget, such as a button that would cause that new part of the system to highlight or change color.
  • For security reasons, Space Apps judges cannot download executable files; therefore, the interactive 3D models ought to be embedded in a deployed web page. The example resources include suggested ideas for finding free web application hosting services.
  • Keywords for researching development applications and hosting services are as follows: Planetary science tools, 3D modeling formats, free open source 3D modeling tools, free JavaScript code libraries, how to embed WebGL in a web page, tutorials on how to add GLTF models to a web page. To learn how to deploy a web page, search for free web hosting services. (Consider where you are deploying your code repository; repository hosting services also offer web page hosting.)

For data and resources related to this challenge, refer to the Resources tab at the top of the page. More resources may be added before the hackathon begins.

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